The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

How We Tested Snowboards

By Isaac Laredo ⋅ Review Editor
Saturday November 23, 2019
Rallying one of the fully cambered options.
Rallying one of the fully cambered options.

Our testing process begins with extensive research to identify the market's best products. We narrowed down the field even further and purchased the top 17 models for side by side comparison. Then we hit the lifts for our rigorous field testing. We turned, straightlined, ollied, buttered, and rode powder throughout the winter to sort out the differences between models.

Each metric was tested with two different approaches. First, the models were ridden as similarly as possible for side by side comparison. We thrashed about fast and loose or slow and controlled on hardpack and corduroy, deep powder, regular and switch, and on park laps. The same lines were mirrored, and each turn, high-speed straight line, ollie, metho, and spin/jib was executed at the same location for every run. Secondly, the models were ridden in the style they were designed for to provide adequate descriptions. Tough to accomplish? Yes. Glad we did it? Yes.

By testing in this way, grey areas were eliminated, and data collection was kept true; thus, the personality of each board could be described. When conducting comparative testing, one rider did all the testing, ensuring that thoughts, opinions, and results were even across the board. Do the tester's knees hurt? Yes. Did he crash and burn a few times while railing turns at speed? Yes. Was doing the same run nine times on the deepest day of the year monotonous? Nope. It was rad.

Edging


To assess the edging ability of each model, we rode the boards in a variety of hardpack conditions. From ice to perfect corduroy, we made turns of all radiuses to assess the amount of edge hold, capabilities and ultimately be able to describe their riding character.

The mid-wide waist of the Cadet helps mitigate heel drag for fully tilted turns.
The mid-wide waist of the Cadet helps mitigate heel drag for fully tilted turns.

Powder


Powder flotation is a critical component of your all-around snowboard performance, as the shape of the snowboard largely drives floatation. We dove into the specs of each board to see who had the best combination for maximum floatation. We then field-tested this metric in a variety of snow densities and terrain types to identify the top floaters and the most nimble in the category.

Coming out of the Shadows
Coming out of the Shadows

Stablilty at Speed


We straight-lined on smooth groomers, chunder fields, and other inconsistent snow surfaces. Did we feel like we were gonna fall? Definitely. Did some boards inspire confidence? Yes, they did. We assessed our rider security on each model, paying special attention to the levels of chatter, squirminess, and overall stability of the board.

Edging down the fall line.
Edging down the fall line.

Playfulness


The mountain is an incredible place to play. We evaluated each model on its flex pattern, butter ability, agility, and, ultimately, its fun factor.

The Swift has a playful character to butter your heart out.
The Swift has a playful character to butter your heart out.

Popping and Jumps


To assess the board's jumping ability, we caught as much flight as the resort allows. From flat ground ollies to large park jumps, the goal was to collect as much anecdotal evidence as possible by getting air under our feet.

Japan air. Rider: Kurt Wastell
Japan air. Rider: Kurt Wastell